On July 3rd Christopher Booker, the greatest journalist and social critic of the last 50 years, died. His fields of journalistic expertise were ‘global warming’, the EU, public scares, and the UK family courts. His criticism was focused on groupthink and Jungian patterns in society and storytelling.
His career began as a jazz critic for the Daily Telegraph in 1959, a role he had at the launch of the Sunday Telegraph in 1961, and was a scriptwriter for ‘That Was The Week That Was’, a ground-breaking satire TV programme. He was at the centre of the ‘satire boom’ and became founding editor of ‘Private Eye’, to 1963, though he contributed to it ever since.
In 1969 he published ‘The Neophiliacs’, a Jungian analysis of the huge social and cultural changes which took place in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s. It, along with ‘The Pendulum Years’, by Bernard Levin, a fellow writer on ‘That was the week that was’ , are the seminal contemporaneous works about the 1960s.
His ‘The Seven Basic Plots’ (2004), is one of the most monumental works of literary study of all time. It advances how and why there are only seven plots throughout all stories. Booker posits that these plots (overcoming the monster; rags to riches; voyage and return; journey; comedy; tragedy and rebirth) are all manifestations of the human psyche, and that stories follow these patterns for resolution.
Booker also noted how stories in the 1960s began to not be based on these patterns, and increasingly contained gratuitous violence and sex. That people devised such stories without a resolute plot was a symptom of the psychic epidemic of the time, and resulted in dysfunctional stories.
Booker wrote, ‘The Great Deception’ alongside Richard North in 2005. One of if not the most thorough analysis of the EU, the book examines the political entity, along with the processes that led to its creation. It shows how Jean Monnet had thought of the idea of a supranational government in the 1920s, modelled on the League of Nations, though without the restrictions of national vetoes. After the Second World War, Monnet was in a position to try to implement this supranational government. Alongside Robert Schuman he instigated the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951, though his proposals for a European Defence Union were rejected by the French Assembly in 1954. This put pay to his plans for a European Constitution.
He then resolved to build the supranational governments powers incrementally, using economic integration as a means to an end, beginning with the European Economic Community, established by the Treaty of Rome in 1957. This gradual accrual if powers, which once attained are never back, was to be done without the knowledge of the peoples of Europe. Thus ‘The Great Deception’ of the title.
In the Brexit campaign he favoured leaving with an EFTA-EEA future relationship. Ironically, though he was the longest standing, and most knowledgeable Leaver in the British press, he was left largely to the wayside by more recent arrivals to the campaign. As the pro-Brexit camp became more absolutist about leaving without a deal, Booker came to be regarded as a quasi-remainer.
Booker’s journalism was also found in his work on global warming, about which he exposed the scandals that abound in that fraudulent industry. He wrote ‘The Real Global Warming Disaster’, the seminal study of the history of the global warming scare. It details how this scare was created, the events around the creation of the IPCC, the various summits and IPCC reports. He shows how the IPCC computer models,which media often defers to, are without credibility, and why whose forecasts are invariably at great variance with observations.
He also details the ‘Hockey Stick’ graph scandal. This was when Michael Mann produced a graph, purporting to show how the Earth’s temperature had risen sharply during the end of the century, after centuries of being stable. This graph featured in 2001 IPCC report six times, and in Al Gore’s film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. Upon analysis by Ross McKittrick and Steve McIntyre it was shown to be a fabrication. This amounted to one of the greatest scientific scandals in recent times.
Another scandal that Booker led in relaying to the public was the ‘Climategate’ emails from the Climactic Research Unit(CRU) of the University of East Anglia(UEA). These were leaked emails which showed how the CRU researchers, who were central to the IPCC, discussed how to manipulate data sets – the CRU possessed the most prestigious of which the IPCC relied – to promote the warming cause. They also discussed using their influence to keep papers critical of their case out of scientific journals.
Booker’s global warming journalism brought to light the aforementioned facts to the general public in Britain, because of which an informed discourse is possible there. In Ireland there is a media-political consensus on global warming uncritical favour for the Green Part. This is mainly because the journalists who write or speak about the matter are totally uninformed, including about the scandals mentioned above. What’s more, they are hostile towards any fact which does not accord with their received opinion, which only serves to strengthen their echo chamber.
Booker was an intellectual giant of an era that could produce and appreciate such, unlike our own increasingly ubiquitously and shamelessly uncultured era. One should read all of his books and be grateful to have been able to have been among him. We will not see his like again.